As anyone who has read much of this blog probably knows, I (and the other BBTI guys) like weird guns. Anything that is innovative, or unusual, or uses a transitional technology, is likely to catch my eye.
One of those I got to try this past weekend is a reproduction Sharps Pepperbox. It was designed by Christian Sharps (of Sharps Rifle fame) in the middle 1800s , and proved to be a popular little hide-away gun in early .22. .30, and .32 rimfire cartridges.
In the 1960s Uberti produced a little .22short reproduction with a brass frame and plastic grips. Here’s one recently listed on Gunbroker which has an excellent description of both the reproduction and the original: Uberti Sharps Pepperbox 4 Barrel Derringer.
And here are some pics of the one we shot this weekend:
As you can see, the barrel assembly just slides forward to allow access to the breech. You put the hammer at half cock, then depress the button latch at the front of the gun, and it slides forward. Then you can drop four rounds of .22short into the barrels:
The assembly then just slides back into position, and locks. When you draw the hammer back, the firing pin (mounted on the hammer) rotates one-quarter of the way around, to strike each cartridge in turn.
Though a modern .22short has a surprising amount of energy, out of such a short barrel you’re looking at a modest 40-50 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Would I care to be shot by one, let alone 4? Nope. And even the original loads using black powder, which would probably generate no more than about half that M.E., such a little hide-away gun would likely give a person on the other end of the barrels pause, because the risk of disability or death from infection would be significant.
Shooting the pepperbox was easy, and had no perceived recoil. Hitting a target at more than about five or six feet was another matter. Most of us tried it at about 10′, and were lucky to get one or two rounds into a 8″ circle. You might be able to improve on that with practice, but still, this was a gun meant for up close use:
It really is a cool little design, and a fun range toy. Shoot one if you ever get the chance.
This content originally appeared at text and was written by James Downey This content is syndicated and does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Liberal Gun Club